What little ways can my family become greener?

That’s right! I’m looking to be environmentally-friendly. Well, more so, since my family does a few things to reduce its impact already, including:

  1. Composting year-round
  2. Keeping the thermostat at 65 (usually) in the winter and 72 in the summer
  3. Recycling everything we can–plastic, cardboard, paper, and metal
  4. Compact fluorescent lightbulbs
  5. Water-efficient toilets
  6. I bike, rather than drive (but my parents don’t)

What else can we do?

I guess this means you live with your parents, so maybe you can use your bike to reduce thier driving. A trailer for a bike opens up a new world of possibilitys.

I’ve taken to grocery shopping by bicycle. I picked up a used Burley kid trailer off craig’s list, and use it haul groceries and to take our dogs to the off-leash park. These are things that many people assume MUST require use of a car. TIP: choose a grocery store uphill or upwind from your home!

There are several DIY plans for bicycle trailers on the web, which will keep a couple of old bike wheels out of a landfill somewhere.

Energy is a huge environmental burden, and you pay a lot for it, so you can generally use gasoline and utility bills as a measure of success and try everything you like to reduce them. I think reducing your gasoline bill by some amount is more helpful to the environment than reducing your electricity bill by the same amount, though.

Small batteries are very bad for the environment, considering their size. I use lots of batteries, and always throw them into a bucket in the basement for recycling later. But I’ve been doing this for years and the bucket’s still not full yet. Somebody told me that a single AA cell ruins several cubic meters of soil, as a rough estimate.

You can also pick hobbies and entertainments that are by their nature kind to Mother nature. I visit the same fragile little barrier island on our weeklong family vacation each year, and one of my hobbies when we go to the beach is filling a large garbage bag with plastic and other trash that washes up on the beach or blows up to the edge of the dunes (where I can still reach it without climbing on them). So I fill 5 to 10 bags every summer.

1.) Put them under the sink and keep them a little damp.

2.) Exposure them all to a Bruce Banner-sized dose of gamma rays

How about sensors to turn off lights when no one is in the room?

I also hear air travel is a huge eco-hit. So minimizing your air travel would be “greener”.


Geothermal heat and AC.
Recycling may not be the best thing, though.
Smaller car for the parents. Doesn’t have to be a hybrid (which may be worse), just smaller.
Buy carbon credits yourself.
Install a windmill power generator.
You’re in Saskatchewan; is your Hydro hydro or something else? Maybe electricity ought not be a concern.
Use automatic shutdown (or hibernate) and startup for your computer, if it supports it.
Cancel your newspaper and magazine subscriptions.

Based on your list, you’re already doing more than almost everyone else in Canada/U.S.A. Good for you. Given that, the best thing you can do is educate and convince others about how they can improve.

I wonder what you mean by this. As far as I know recycling saves energy, thereby reducing your carbon footprint. This is definitely the case with aluminum.

How is a hybrid worse?

I’m not certain how various power grids work and such, so this may not be accurate, but wont excess power produced be transfered to a different grid that may be powered by fossil fuels? If thats the case, then power not used by the OP still means fewer fossil fuels are burned.

I like to kayak. I go out of my way to pick up at least one piece of trash each trip. I have told other boaters about this, and have seen some of them doing the same thing.

Switch to shaving with shaving soap instead of foam.

Use Linnit in a plastic spray bottle to starch your shirts,

Lose weight, which will decrease energy consumption in transportation.

Check you community rules for use of grey water.

Recycling is actually the third option in “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”. Ideally we should not be buying something at all; second best is buying it and then washing it out (or whatever) for use another time; only if we can’t do either of those should we recycle the thing. Tossing it into the landfill or incinerator is, of course, a desperate last option.

This is for manufactured things. Organics, like food, have their own cycle with composting systems (which should be as local as possible). Citywide residential composting uses a lot more fuel than everyone composting individially in their back yards, but apartment-dwellers and such may not be able to compost individually.

[ul][li]Buy a couple of large, canvas bags take them with you to the grocery store, department stores, etc.[/li][li]Stop buying bottled water.[/li][li]Take shorter showers and turn the tap off while you’re brushing your teeth.[/li][li]Buy environmentally friendly products, like biodegradable bags and plant-based fabric softeners, amongst other things.[/li][li]Patronize your local farmer’s market for produce (besides being greener, it’s yummier and cheaper, too!).[/li][li]Don’t forget to include food scraps in your compost, not just leaves and grass clippings.[/li][li]Do the laundry in cold water and use an outdoor drying rack, when possible (I have this one, and love it!!).[/li]Use loose tea and a diffuser instead of tea bags, and fertilize your soil with your used coffee grounds.[/ul] That’s all I can think of off the top of my head for now. Good luck!

Ah hah! You guys have reminded me of a couple of other things.

  1. We re-use plastic bags (like freezer baggies)
  2. We use cloth bags for grocery shopping, and recycle the plastic ones we get when we forget.
  3. We do cold-water laundry
  4. We drink loose tea

That said, some of these are great suggestions; thanks! I’ll look into shaving soap (since it’s fun, anyway), and getting involved in environmental groups.

Check out the above site, it has various tips for energy saving.

Edit: Accidentally Double Posted!

To reduce you ecological footprint, first take a quiz or answer a questionnaire such as earthday.net. This will give you an indication of the size of your current footprint. Then you can modify your behaviour to improve against this baseline, based on the sorts of items in the questionnaire.

Google “ecological footprint” for more tools on assisting you do this.

Simple explanation of ecological footprint.

You and your parents are already doing very good.

A programmable thermostat would allow you to save even more electric.

Whenever you buy a new appliance, ensure it is Energy Star.

A bigger way is to look into installing some solar panels.

If you buy a High Def TV, go LCD over Plasma or DLP. They use far less energy.


72 for AC instead of what? I know I’m a freak, but I’m from Florida and my parents kept the thermostat at 78 all the time, so 72 to me seems really cold.

I see What Exit? beat me to my programmable thermostat idea- no need to keep it cool if you’re not there.

Tell your parents to keep their tires properly (not over) inflated- better gas mileage.

The quiz is far too simple, it does not allow for my constant recycling & reuse, composting, Solar Panels or energy saving devices. It is also nearly impossible for an American to score well on it.

As it is I score significantly better than people in my area, but the quiz is a bad guide. There must be better, more detailed ones out there.


Pfff. The quiz is a piece of shit for where I live. Public transportation?

Ch’yeah right!